It's the biggest week of the year for sports entertainment, with Wrestlemania taking place in SoFi Stadium in Hollywood this weekend over two nights on the WWE Network and BT Sport Box Office.
Irish accents are now commonly heard during WWE Shows and Premium Live Events. Irish superstars like Sheamus, Becky Lynch and Finn Balor are some of the most recognisable personalities in the business, while Dubliner Kevin Patrick Egan recently marked his second year as a broadcaster for the WWE.
Egan, a Griffith College Journalism graduate who started his media career with RTE, now works for WWE as lead commentator on Monday Night Raw, as well as commentating on MLS matches for Apple TV.
Day 1 with @AppleTV and @MLS 😆 A stoppage time double from Almada to snatch it for Atlanta 🤯 #MLS is back! pic.twitter.com/xK7tiJuSFC
— Kevin Patrick Egan (@kev_egan) February 26, 2023
Kevin moved to America in 2009 and has made waves across the Atlantic in soccer broadcasting for companies such as CNN and beIN Sports, before getting the opportunity with the WWE in 2021.
Dublin GAA also runs in Kevin’s blood. His dad Liam played for Dublin footballers in the 1970s, winning 2 All-Irelands, and as a young player Kevin had dreams of donning the famous sky blue jersey himself.
While admitting he was never realistically going to make it to Croker with the Dubs, an anterior cruciate ligament injury while playing for the Raheny u21s shifted his focus to his broadcasting career, which now takes him to Wrestlemania 39 in Hollywood.
Balls.ie spoke to Egan about his career journey, from Raheny to Wrestlemania.
Balls: Hi Kev! On the 8th of March you celebrated 2 years with the WWE. What a rollercoaster ride?
Kevin Egan: It has been truly incredible and the most unpredictable journey, going from backstage reporting to now leading Raw commentary with Corey Graves, beyond words!
We recently had John Cena on Raw in Boston, and the crowd reaction when he came out was out of this world. I took off my headphones and took it all in. I am enjoying every second of my time in WWE.
Balls: Going back to the beginning, how did the opportunity with WWE come about in 2021?
KE: I’ll never forget the moment. I was shaving, getting ready to go on CNN International from my in home studio, (due to pandemic) and I got a call from a gentleman that asked me would I be interested in auditioning for a broadcast position in WWE.
At first I thought it might be some knockoff Ashton Kutcher on Punk'd!
I didn't hesitate and drove down to Tampa for the audition. I was blown away by the production, the professionalism and the overall vibe.
It felt like an amazing opportunity. Thankfully I got offered the job!
Balls: As you say you started off as a backstage reporter, then doing some commentary on Main Event, you are now commentating on Monday Night Raw. How did that evolution take place?
KE: Honestly, I think it’s been a day by day learning experience. Understanding the business takes time. I’m still learning a million and one things every week! Hopefully through a little humility, and understanding the constant need to improve will mean I’ll progress in this role. It’s such a challenging position. I lean on so many people on a daily basis as this is a huge production and so much goes in to it, I strive to always get to know the performers better so that subconsciously I am more emotionally-invested and can tell their stories as well as possible. I am grateful to the hierarchy in WWE and my colleagues for giving me this opportunity and I just want to do right by them.
Balls: Is there anybody from sport/sports entertainment commentary that you take inspiration from?
KE: Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Can you imagine him commentating on WWE? When he was a teacher he actually taught my dad, then he commentated when my dad played for Dublin and won 2 All-Irelands! Full circle; a brilliant commentator and storyteller.
In WWE I take great inspiration from Michael Cole and Corey Graves. There's a famous Johan Cruyff quote, “playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is”. Michael Cole makes things seem simple and effortless, when they are anything but. He’s a genius at this craft.
Balls: You have commentated on soccer a lot over the years also and continue to do so in MLS on Apple TV. How does that compare with commentating on Sports Entertainment. What challenges have you faced commentating for WWE?
KE: Commentating on WWE has actually helped me commentate on football as it makes you look at things from a storytelling perspective rather than solely commentating on the game. In WWE it is constantly a learning process and anything can happen. Five minutes into my second broadcast as commentator on Raw, Bobby Lashley put Brock Lesnar through the announce desk. All my notes were destroyed! You are always looking at the best ways to tell the story whether that be in GAA, MLS, or WWE and then picking the moments to let things breathe and say nothing at all.
Balls: You have an experienced commentator by your side on Monday Nights in Corey Graves. What is the dynamic like between you and how much does his years/experience in the business help?
KE: I can’t speak highly enough of Corey and how much of a help he has been. He is so knowledgeable and so passionate about the business. We often have meetings after the shows over a few drinks to just talk about the business, and all the details that go into it. He’s a gem.
I asked him recently to wish Becky Lynch happy birthday as Gaeilge during Raw not thinking much of it, Corey asked how do you say it and "lá breithe shona duit, Becky" made it into the broadcast!
“Lá breithe sona duit”, @BeckyLynchWWE 🥳
G’wan @WWEGraves… channeling your inner Irishman 😆👏🏻🥃 #WWERaw pic.twitter.com/aTs7kkGQOh
— Kevin Patrick Egan (@kev_egan) February 2, 2023
Balls: WWE have a considerable Irish contingent including Becky Lynch, Sheamus, and Finn Balor, is there much craic/banter backstage with Irish superstars?
KE: I get to talk to Becky and Finn the most as they are both on RAW, Sheamus is on Smackdown but we chat back and forth every now and again. We also have Lyra Valkyrie and JD McDonagh that are doing so well.
In my first year with WWE I actually had a cool moment with Sheamus on Raw post show Raw Talk where we talked briefly about growing up in Dublin and our use of the DART! They are all lovely genuine people. Becky grew up only down the road from me, but I never met her until WWE. They are all fantastic ambassadors for Ireland, and they have worked so hard to get where they are. I am honoured to work alongside them and help tell their stories.
Balls: This week you will experience your 3rd Wrestlemania with the company This year’s edition taking place over 2 nights in Hollywood. What is it like to work Wrestlemania?
KE: It’s hard to accurately describe the magnitude of Wrestlemania. It's absolutely huge and I'm pumped to be part of it.
My first Wrestlemania in 2021, or as folks called it “WRESTLERAINIA", was delayed on the night due to a thunderstorm. I had only been working there 3 weeks. To fill the air time until the thunderstorm passed they had me do impromptu interviews with a few superstars. I met Seth Rollins for the first time on air, and he hilariously called me "Mike".
Last year to see Stone Cold and Vince McMahon in action in the ring in Dallas was amazing. I can’t wait until this year’s Wrestlemania in Hollywood.
Balls: Lastly, 2 years in, what goals do you have in the future in WWE, and what have been your highlights from that time?
KE: My main goal will always be happiness for me and my family. That is my number 1 priority. I'm loving combining work for WWE and MLS and am extremely grateful for everything in my life.
In terms of highlights, there have been so many. Seeing the amazing reaction to John Cena on the recent Raw in Boston, having a pint of Guinness in a rare stopover in Shannon Airport, where they let us bring the pints on board!
Filming a backstage segment with the music sensation that is Bad Bunny, where his car was thrashed, was so much fun.
Honestly though, the main highlight has been connecting with the people behind the superstars. Edge is one of my favourite human beings, such a caring and inspirational person. Also Beth Phoenix, Bobby Lashley, MVP just to name a few. it's a pleasure to pick their brain, trade stories about our families, and feel their passion for this tremendously unique business.
Kevin Egan will be hosting the Wrestlemania 39 Kickoff from SoFi Stadium in Hollywood this weekend Saturday April 1st-Sunday April 2nd on the WWE network and BT Sport Box Office.